Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky, illustrated by Erwin Madrid (Walden Pond Press, an imprint of HarperCollins, April 26, 2011), 240 pages
Juniper Berry is the daughter of movie superstars. She has fond memories of spending time with her parents, but since their stardom really took off, they’ve become distant, obsessed with maintaining their status. What’s more, they’ve also — in attempt to safeguard their privacy — essentially shut Juniper up, she never gets to leave the house. Her parents’ eyes are empty, and when a neighbor boy wanders into her backyard, she not only gains a friend but also incentive to figure out what’s wrong with her parents.
I appreciated the first part of the book, the part that details Juniper’s everyday goings on. Her looking through her monocular, telescope, and playing with the family dog, Kitty. The scene involving the home-video of Central Park is especially poignant.
Once it got past the beginning part (I can’t help but think of it as two separate parts, the transition was abrupt), the story was quite dark, which surprised me. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. Dark, and scary, and background-wise, there were quite a few holes I wish had been filled in.
The characters. The cast of characters who actually shows signs of life is very small: Juniper, Giles, Dmitri, and Theodore. Dmitri and Theodore have very little screen time. Even Giles feels like a type, rather than a real person.
I usually really enjoy middle-grade fiction, but this one didn’t succeed for me. It was OK, but *only* OK.
Rating: 2.75 stars
About the author
M.P. Kozlowsky was a high school English teacher before becoming a writer. Juniper Berry is his first book. He lives in New York with his wife and daughter.
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